The Selangor Islamic religious department (Jais) alleged that Christian and Buddhist missionary groups are quietly and sneakily spreading their teachings to Muslim patients in several hospitals in Selangor.
Jais PRO Fakhrul Azman Yahya claimed the religious groups hide their sinister proselytising intentions behind the veil of social service. He averred: “However, their main motive is to spread their teachings to the patients, especially Muslim patients.”
He said Jais had launched the ‘Rakan Masjid’ (Friends of the Mosque)programme to neutralise those secret undercover missionaries, and to encourage Muslim evangelical groups to frequent hospitals.
All I can comment on is about the Buddhist group because I have more intimate knowledge about the Buddhist religion than I do Christianity, even though members of my family belong to a number of religions including, would you believe, Sikhism. But many are Buddhists, including my mum.
I dare say Jais has been bullsh*tting if it claimed there were Buddhist missionaries or that those Buddhist missionary groups had been spreading their teachings to the Muslim patients, because that’s against the very notion of Buddhism and Buddhist beliefs. Buddhism or Buddhist monks cannot convert people. There’s no concept or ideology of proselytising.
Buddhism is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, religion to practise. One cannot merely believe in Buddhism to become a Buddhist; one actually has to practise the principles of Buddhism, and even then, one would wonder whether one has become a Buddhist yet?
But leaders of other faiths seem to be fairly scared of Buddhism. Some years ago, in Australia in the port-town of Wollonggong (just a little south of Sydney), Buddhists (mainly Chinese) built the biggest temple in the Southern Hemisphere. I have been there a couple of times to partake of the vegetarian meals. It’s a lovely tranquil place which attracted many Aussies, whom, as we all know, are fairly curious and adventurous people
The locals like to try out stuff like Zen, meditation, bonsai, and what have become known as the ‘New Age’ stuff, even though in reality Buddhism preceded Christianity by around 600 years. There’s even a Da Vinci type of story circulating for years among the more secular-minded scholars that Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, could have picked up Buddhism after reaching India.
Anyway, the temple became a fairly popular venue for many of the good folks in Wollonggong. An Anglican archbishop was so worried about the growing Wollonggong-ites’ interests in Buddhism (even though they were just treating it like a fad) that he warned Aussies publicly that “those Buddhists are godless people”, perhaps meaning they could well be communists or nasty pieces of sh*t?
He’s not quite right though I would have probably marked his statement as meriting 45 out of a 100. Buddhist belief do not dismiss the existence of ‘devas’ or ‘gods’, so the archbishop’s statement about Buddhist ‘godlessness’ had not been spot on, but he’s partially correct in that Buddhists treat those ‘devas’ as just another form of life, like homo sapiens, dolphins or butterflies – perhaps with a longer life span like say, zillions of years, and possessing supranormal properties (that modern science hasn’t come to grips with yet), but nonetheless subject to the Buddhists’ belief of life, death and reincarnation. Yes, those ‘devas’ will eventually perish too, like all of us.
In other words, Buddhists believe their fate are not dependent upon the mercy or goodwill of those ‘devas’. Their ability to break free of the cycle of life, death and reincarnation depends on their own efforts of right action, right thoughts and right understanding of the Truths.
OK, I better stop here lest I be accused of spreading Buddhist teachings, least of all by jolly ole me KTemoc, but I do understand that in Buddhism, it’s not possible to ‘convert’ anyone. If any Buddhist (whether monk or layperson) claims he or she can, that’s sheer utter bullsh*t, and you can quote me ;-)